The Homers Were More Fun: NL Loses, Phils Phlop in 2013 All-Star Game

The Homers Were More Fun: NL Loses, Phils Phlop in 2013 All-Star Game

Three hits, one walk, zero runs. That was what the NL's collection of offensive talent was able to put up against a wrecking crew of AL pitchers in the All-Star Game tonight, a feeble performance that at least prevented the game from stretching on past midnight. The AL didn't provide a ton of offensive fireworks either, but managed a more respectable three runs on nine hits, which was enough to get the ball to Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning to close it out. (Actually, there are nine innings in a baseball game, so Joe Nathan was awkwardly brought in to double-close it out after, but Mo won the MVP anyway because SENTIMENT.)

The Phillies did not exactly represent to the fullest in this one. Cliff Lee pitched one inning of work, giving up a quick two hits and then allowing a Jose Bautista sac fly to score the AL's second run of the game. The earned run wasn't really all on him, as the second hit came on a grounder to short that the normally sure-handed Troy Tulowitzki butchered, and at least he induced a couple easy grounders to get out of the inning shortly thereafter, but when you only get one inning of work, any amount of run-sacrificing is tough to swallow.

Lee's performance was a better showing than Dom Brown's, at least. As a result of the NL lineup's disturbingly efficient outmaking, Dom played nearly half the game but only came to bat once. In that at bat: Three pitches, three strikes (two called, last swinging) and one out. If Dom was hoping to state his case for why he shouldn't have been left off the Home Run Derby roster, there would have been more convincing ways to do it, though we're hoping he'll have plenty of chances to come for both his Derby debut and his All-Star redemption before his stay in Philadelphia wraps.

Really, this was a pretty boring baseball game. The most entertaining parts of the night came outside of the game, as when an idiot Yankees fan dared Twitter to dare him to rush the field (then got smacked down by security after doing so), or when Neil Diamond took the field in the mid-eighth for an even-more-embarrassing-than-usual "Sweet Caroline" sing-along. Rivera's final All-Star Game obviously dominated the conversation, though AL coach Jim Leyland's controversial decision to use him in the eighth instead of the ninth (presumably due to fear the AL would take the lead and Mo would not be able to pitch at all) certainly robbed the moment of a good deal of its poetry. (Tim McCarver also said his fond farewell to ASG broadcasting, though it's hard to imagine many baseball fans were getting terribly choked up at that.)

Whatever. No real consequence here except that AL gets home-field at the World Series this year, and let's just say that the Phils will cross that exceedingly unlikely bridge when they come to it. Phils season starts again on Friday, and hopefully Dom will get a couple opportunities to put bat to ball again before season's end. See you back at Citi Field then.

Gunn's Bullet Points: Flags could fly in secondary for Eagles-Cowboys

Gunn's Bullet Points: Flags could fly in secondary for Eagles-Cowboys

Some notes and keys ahead of Sunday night's Eagles-Cowboys game:

• Since throwing for 301 yards against Pittsburgh in Week 3, Carson Wentz's aerial numbers have declined — 238 yards in Detroit, 179 in Washington and 138 vs. Minnesota.

• Even though he missed two games with an injury, I still can't understand how Zach Ertz has been targeted only 16 times in four games this season.

• Dallas WR Cole Beasley is arguably the best slot receiver in the game right now. Last November against the Eagles, he had nine receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns. With the Eagles' best slot cornerback, Ron Brooks, out for the year with a ruptured quad tendon, Malcolm Jenkins will have his hands full trying to keep up with Beasley in the slot.

• Eagles and Cowboys defensive backs beware: Jerome Boger's crew is officiating this game. This season, Boger's crew has called 36 penalties for defensive pass interference, illegal contact or defensive holding.

• The Eagles' 20 sacks ties them for third-most in the league. Dallas has allowed just nine, second-fewest in the NFL.

• Does Doug Pederson still have faith in RB Ryan Mathews late in games? Mathews has fumbled with less than five minutes left in two of the last three games. The head coach says he has not lost faith in Mathews, and Mathews says he'll stop fighting for more yards late in games. Time will tell.

After 2 fumbles, Mathews says he must fight urge to fight for more yards

After 2 fumbles, Mathews says he must fight urge to fight for more yards

Doug Pederson said this week he’s so concerned about Ryan Mathews’ late-game fumbling problem that he’ll consider using a different running back in crucial late-game situations (see story).

If Mathews is concerned about it, he’s not letting on.

“I don’t worry about stuff like that,” he said at his locker on Thursday. “Worrying about stuff like that just causes more stress.

“I can’t control any of that. The only thing I can control is trying to give him 100 percent every time I touch the ball and trying to get better.”

Mathews likely cost the Eagles a win over the Lions with his late fumble in Detroit three weeks ago. Last week, he lost another fumble in the final minutes of the Eagles’ win over the Vikings.

He’s the first back with two fumbles in the final five minutes of two games in the same season since Ahmad Bradshaw of the Giants in 2010.

He has single-handedly accounted for two of the three fumbles by NFL running backs in the last five minutes of games this year.

Pederson on Wednesday said, “By no means am I down on Ryan,” but also said he would consider using Wendell Smallwood or Darren Sproles in late-game situations moving forward.

Mathews is averaging 3.9 yards per carry on a team-high 11 carries per game.

He said Thursday he has to learn not to fight for extra yards when the situation calls mainly for ball protection.

“You can’t fight for more yards, you’ve just got to go down,” he said. “Don’t put the ball on the ground.

“There’s no secret cure or anything like that. You’ve just got to get what you can get and get down. You can’t really fight for more yards like that.”

Mathews said it’s difficult for him to ramp down his natural aggressiveness in situations that call for him to be more conservative and protect the ball instead of trying to fight for extra yards.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “I’m not the one to really shy away from not going down on first contact. But situations like that, you’ve just got to be more aware.”

Sproles (4.6 average on 31 carries), Smallwood (4.1 average on 28 carries) and Kenjon Barner (5.8 average on 16 carries) all have higher rushing averages than Mathews.

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich said he’s not concerned about Mathews and said his confidence in the 29-year-old former Pro Bowler hasn’t waned.

“I love our guys,” Reich said. “I wouldn't trade our guys for anybody. We use a word around here a lot, and I know sometimes it gets thrown around, but it's family.

“You know, not every family's perfect, and we all make mistakes, but when we put guys out on the field (we’re confident in them). I can't play like that. I can't coach like that. You've got to have confidence.

“Now with coaches, it’s a business and coaches make decisions based on things. And when those decisions get made, they get made. But when a guy is in the game, we have to play with confidence and we have to coach with confidence and I don't see any other way to do it.”